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Palestinian Diplomat Hanan Ashrawi: The U.S. Is Israel’s “Partner in Crime” in Deadly Assault on Gaza

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Palestinian diplomat and scholar Hanan Ashrawi joins us from Ramallah in the occupied West Bank and says the unfolding catastrophe in the Gaza Strip, where Israeli bombardment has killed over 7,000 people so far, is equally the fault of the United States. “The U.S. is certainly a partner in crime with Israel,” says Ashrawi, noting that the bombs raining down on Gaza right now are largely produced in and paid for by the U.S. “Israel is guilty of slaughter, of massacres, of ethnic cleansing, of genocide. These are the terms that describe a reality that is happening before your own eyes, Mr. Biden.”

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: We’re continuing to look at Israel’s bombardment in Gaza as Israel and the United States reject growing calls for a ceasefire. The death toll in Gaza has topped 7,000 as Israel’s bombardment continues for a 20th day amid a deepening humanitarian catastrophe, as fuel, food and water run out. Israel began bombing on October 7th after Hamas carried out an attack that killed 1,400 people in Israel.

We go now to the West Bank, where Israeli forces are continuing to arrest large numbers of Palestinians across the occupied West Bank. Overnight, at least 85 more Palestinians were detained in a series of raids in East Jerusalem, Hebron and elsewhere. According to a Palestinian prisoners’ rights group, nearly 1,500 people in the West Bank have been arrested since October 7th, many of whom are being held without charge under Israel’s so-called administrative detention policy. Over a hundred Palestinians have been killed across the West Bank this month.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined now by Hanan Ashrawi, the Palestinian diplomat and scholar, formerly an executive committee member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, PLO, was the first woman to hold a seat in the highest executive body in Palestine. She also served as the official spokesperson of the Palestinian delegation to the Middle East peace process.

Hanan Ashrawi, welcome back to Democracy Now! If you can, following Youmna, talk about what’s happening today, the bombardment, the global calls for a ceasefire, including the U.N. secretary-general, Guterres, and also talk about the U.S. response and what a difference it makes, what the U.S. says?

HANAN ASHRAWI: Yes, absolutely, because the U.S. is not an even-handed observer or peace broker. The U.S. is certainly a partner in crime with Israel. The U.S. is funding Israel, is providing it with massive weapons, has sent aircraft carriers. The bombs being rained down on Gaza, and sometimes on us, are made in the U.S. The airplanes are American airplanes.

And not just that, but the U.S. has decided to become spokespeople, the U.S. administration, including Biden and Blinken, in a very — in a horrible way, in which they have sacrificed not just their own credibility, but the credibility of the Americans, by repeating the propaganda of the Israeli spin machine and by labeling and maligning and smearing the Palestinians, and then calling us liars. So, what Israel says, in many ways, affects what the U.S. says, affects public opinion as a whole. Even the Europeans swallowed all those lies at the beginning of the incursion, in which they accused the Palestinians of horrible things without evidence, without substantiation, without any kind of proof, and then it became actual fact.

So, let me say that now the U.S. has no credibility, whether at the political scene or at the military scene or at the moral or even legal scene, by consistently voting against any kind of ceasefire, by giving Israel not just a green light, but all the weapons, all the materials needed to continue with this genocide. And there’s no other way to describe it than the U.S. is — in many ways, is not just complicit, is part of this war.

And this war against Gaza is a massacre against civilians. Seven hundred and thirty-one families have been totally eradicated. It’s not just when we say 7,000 killed, 750 or several thousand children, 3,000 children and so on. These are all human beings that we are seeing live on the air. We are seeing bodies torn to pieces. We are seeing people digging through the rubble. And we know that there are over 1,700 who are under the rubble, who cannot be dug out. People don’t know who they are, where they are. There are children who have lost whole families. There are babies who are left alone, and nobody knows to whom they belong. And there are massive mass graves in Gaza.

It’s just so horrific, that to see Blinken or Biden stand up and say, “We don’t believe the Palestinians”? Well, look at Netanyahu. Pinocchio would be very happy with all the lies. They have a spin machine. We have a cause. That’s the difference. They have weapons of mass destruction. They have Apache gunships. They have F-16s. They have everything that they can throw on innocent people, on whole families, on buildings, on neighborhoods, on whole areas, on hospitals and schools and universities. And I think our weapon is not just a moral stance, but also a legal stance. We have international law, and we have right on our side. So, that’s the difference.

We talk about asymmetry of power. Yes, they can kill all of us. And they’ve been trying to do that piecemeal and gradually in the West Bank, killing people, demolishing homes, extrajudicial assassinations, abductions of people and so on, and in a massive way in Gaza, long-distance, where they are not seen, where they are invisible. The Gazans are being killed by war machines that are provided by the U.S. So, the asymmetry of power is, of course, in the power that is physical, that is destructive weapons. We have human power, moral power. We are a people, as I said, with a cause and with justice on our side.

And that, we must continue insisting on and pressing for the rest of the world to see. There is public opinion. It is moving. It is shifting. It’s beginning to see through all the clouds of misconception and lies and a smearing campaign. But the leaders, sooner or later, will be held accountable for not only swallowing these lies and repeating them, but also for being party to them and for being complicit in this.

So it makes a difference. It makes a difference that the U.S. used its veto repeatedly to prevent any kind of justice for Palestine and, in this case, to prevent any kind of resolution on ceasefire — ceasefire, for heaven’s sake, stopping the killing of innocents, the slaughter of people in a genocide that is unfolding before the eyes of the whole world. And they stand up and say, “No ceasefire.” It is just unconscionable.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Dr. Ashrawi, quite apart from the fact that the U.S. is holding back on endorsing a ceasefire, Netanyahu spoke last night, on Wednesday, and continued to talk about a ground invasion. So, as lethal and devastating as the present assault is on Gaza, what do you fear might happen with a ground invasion?

HANAN ASHRAWI: Actually, this is being used as scare tactics and as part of psychological warfare. And does Biden want a ground invasion, or doesn’t he? Does Netanyahu want one, or doesn’t he? What do the military say, what they don’t? Look, a ground invasion, yes, can be lethal. It can be also a continuation of the massacre. But, I mean, I think you cannot invade such a high-density population, an area that is already under siege, that has also underground tunnels and so on, and expect it to be a picnic for them. I know they can kill more people. They’ve been killing people every day. So how much worse can it be? I mean, if you kill 8,000, and there are others and more and more, what do you want to do with a ground invasion?

But let me say, frankly, they had hoped at the beginning that with carpet bombing and with killing as many people as possible in the north and sending them south, then bombing them on their way and bombing them when they get to the south, that they had hoped they would carry out ethnic cleansing in the north, and they would clear the way either for a ground invasion where there are no people or for a reoccupation of the north. At first they hoped that all Palestinians can be expelled and kicked out and can go to Egypt or Jordan or whatever, which is part of the history of the Nakba, of the Palestinian disaster, catastrophe, in which Israel was created by a series of massacres against the Palestinians, the razing to the ground of 500 villages and more, the scare tactics of expulsion, uprooting people and expelling them and turning more than half the Palestinian people into refugees. They thought that this can be done now. Well, it can’t be done now.

Now they’re talking about ground invasions, and they’re leaking news that they might flood the tunnels, for example, or they might use gas against them in the tunnels, or they will not — they will continue to prevent any kind of fuel from getting to Gaza so that the air in the tunnels will no longer be there and everybody will be killed, which is something that I think people should understand. It’s not just the Palestinians there. There are hostages there. Hamas offered to release noncombatants, to release international people and to release people who are not involved in this war. And they don’t want to even talk about it in Israel. But they are willing to sacrifice all of them through such a massive campaign of slaughter again.

So, anyway, whatever they want, Israel clearly does not have a clear policy of what to do, because it is based not on justice, not on understanding what the real causes are, and, therefore, what the real solutions are, but on inflicting more pain, killing more people, continuing with a genocide and pursuing Nakba politics that have not once produced any kind of peace or stability or security for anybody.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Ashrawi, I want to play two clips of President Biden speaking in the Rose Garden yesterday.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: We also have to remember Hamas does not represent — let me say it again — Hamas does not represent the vast majority of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip or anywhere else. Hamas is hiding behind Palestinian civilians, and it’s despicable and, not surprisingly, cowardly, as well. This also puts an added burden on Israel while they go after Hamas. But that does not lessen the need for — to operate and align with the laws of war.

AMY GOODMAN: During the news conference, Biden also questioned the reported death toll in Gaza.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I have no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed. I’m sure innocents have been killed, and it’s the price of waging a war. I think we should be incredibly careful. I think — not we — the Israelis should be incredibly careful to be sure that they’re focusing on going after the folks that are propagating this war.

AMY GOODMAN: So, two questions, Dr. Ashrawi. He’s saying you can’t trust the casualty figures that Gaza is putting out, and that Hamas does not have the support of the Palestinian people. Though he says that, he does not push for a ceasefire for the killing of civilians.

HANAN ASHRAWI: No, exactly not, because he’s complicit. And I say it very openly. These are American weapons, American funding. Billions of dollars are being poured in the area, and American weapons are coming. What are they doing in our part of the world? Why do we want ships and bases and warships and aircraft carriers and so on to defend Americans? What from? Where from? Why?

But anyway, let me go back to the issue of this. Again, it’s a way of demonizing and dehumanizing a whole segment of the Palestinian people. It is disingenuous to think that Hamas is just a separate group or to continue with this slander that Hamas is ISIS or this has to do with the Israelis being Jewish or whatever. It has nothing to do with that. And Hamas is not ISIS. I’m not a Hamas supporter, and I’ve never been, and I’m not a member. But they are 30%, at least, of the population. They ran for elections. They were part of the Legislative Council. They have a military wing, yes, and they have a political wing, yes. And they have social services and institutions and women’s organizations and children’s organizations, and they provide services in Gaza and elsewhere. So, why? Why do you insist on just labeling Hamas as a terrorist organization and not understanding the larger context? You cannot kill Hamas. You want to kill 30% of the people? You insisted on having democracy and elections and a pluralistic system, and we do. Look, in Israel, they have people who are more ideological, more to the extreme, more racist, and so on, than any political party in Palestine.

The real difference is that we are under occupation. The real difference is that there is a predisposition by Biden and others to malign the Palestinians and to believe everything the Israelis said. They have to walk back the issue of women being raped or children being beheaded or all that nonsense, doctored pictures and so on. What about the Al-Ahli Anglican Hospital? Immediately, Israelis said we bombed ourselves with a Palestinian rocket. They said that before, when Shireen Abu Akleh was killed. Immediately, the Israelis said that she was killed by Palestinian fire. It’s amazing. The Church of Saint Porphyrius in Gaza, they immediately said, “No, it was” — and Biden just blindly parrots everything he hears from the Israelis. And as I said, the Israelis have a spin machine, and they are good at it, I must say, because they spend billions on it. And we just have people who are people of conscience, people who know what’s happening, people who are standing up now and exposing all these lies. And he dares say that we are the liars, that you can’t believe the Palestinians. How come the U.N. has the same numbers? How come the U.S. used the same numbers? Now you say, “I don’t believe them,” because you don’t want to believe any evil of your protégé.

Israel is guilty of slaughter, of massacres, of ethnic cleansing, of genocide. These are the terms that describe a reality that is happening before your own eyes, Mr. Biden. I would like you to see our children as human beings, the women killed, people under the rubble, who die under the rubble because we don’t have the machines to get them out, because also the first responders have been killed, because ambulances have been destroyed, because there are no roads to get to them, and because people are digging them out with their hands, and they can hear them, and they can’t get to them, because a grandmother — I am one — was embracing the body of her daughter and her grandchildren and saying, “Please come to me in my dreams, because I can’t live without you.” This is what you’re doing, Mr. Biden. This is what the West is doing.

We are refused the recognition of our own humanity and our own rights, while the death machine, that is destroying everything we stand for, that started with the establishment of Israel as a colonial outpost — yes, we may not be white, Anglo-Saxon or — no, most of us — many of us are Christian — but you cannot use this racist division that the North deserves all power and protection and can get away with anything, literally with murder, while the South and the Brown people, or whatever color, do not deserve it. Just stop this. Stop this colonial mentality. It has to be dealt with honestly. And you have to look at the facts, and you have to look at the truth, and you have to look yourself in the mirror, look at your eyes, and tell me that this is right, that you can get away with the murder of thousands.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, we thank you for being with us.

HANAN ASHRAWI: Sorry, I’m getting a bit emotional.

AMY GOODMAN: You don’t have to apologize.

HANAN ASHRAWI: Thank you. Good to have you.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Ashrawi, Palestinian diplomat and scholar, formerly an executive committee member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, first woman to hold a seat in the highest executive body in Palestine.

When we come back, UC Berkeley philosopher, professor Judith Butler, who signed on to a letter of Jewish writers calling for a ceasefire. Back in 20 seconds.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: “Birth of Creation” by The Comet Is Coming. The group canceled their final show last week, saying, quote, “In solidarity with the global call to strike by our Palestinian brothers and sisters who are in the midst of a genocidal assault,” unquote.

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Palestinian Lives Matter Too: Jewish Scholar Judith Butler Condemns Israel’s “Genocide” in Gaza

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